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  • Dylan Anderson

About 3,000 ballots returned in Routt County as of Thursday after low early turnout

Ballots need to be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day. It is now too late to mail your ballot back, as postmarks do not count.

After ballots seemed to arrive at a slow trickle in earlier this week, the pace of Routt County voters casting their votes in Tuesday’s upcoming coordinated election is picking up.


As of the end of the day Thursday, Routt County Clerk and Recorder Jenny Thomas said there have been 2,946 ballots returned, which equates to about 14% of the electorate. Thomas said that pace has picked up and the number of ballots returned has tripled in recent days.


“Each day it has continuously picked up as far as ballot returns,” Thomas said. “[Thursday] was our biggest day, we had 679 ballots that were received here at the office.”


This year’s coordinated election could see lower turnout than the 2021 rendition simply because for many voters in Routt County there isn’t much on your ballot. There are not any school board elections this year, with no district in the county fielding enough candidates to run an election. (There is a small section of South Routt County in the Eagle County School District, which does have a school board race.)


Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Yampa each have ballot questions, but only Steamboat has a council election. Even in Steamboat’s council election, two of the four seats are already decided as there is just one candidate for each.


In 2021, turnout across Routt County was about 44.3% (about 9,400 votes cast). It was slightly lower in Steamboat, with about 43.5% of registered voters casting their ballot (about 5,000 votes cast). Turnout from 2022 doesn’t reveal much about this year, as that election featured federal and state candidates as well.


Thomas said Monday and Tuesday will likely be the biggest days for returned ballots. She expects a couple thousand to be returned Monday and historically about 3,000 ballots are returned on Election Day.


“We have our polling center open and that has changed locations,” Thomas said, adding that instead of the Annex building behind the courthouse, the polling center has moved across the street to the Community Room in the new Public Health and Human Services building. “It’s there for you if you need ballot replacement, updating voter registration or if you want to vote on a machine.”


Thomas said one issue election judges have been noticing is people overvoting in Steamboat Springs City Council races. An overvote is where more than one of the bubbles are filled in, as if the vote is cast for two candidates. In that instance, no vote is cast unless there is a clear indication of the voter’s intent in the mind of election judges representing both political parties.


“Everyone who is voting on City Council for Steamboat, it’s a vote for one. It’s not a vote for two,” Thomas said.

The Polling Center is open Today (Friday) and Monday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It will also be open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are two 24-hour drop boxes in Steamboat — one in the alley behind the Historic Routt County Courthouse and another off Shield Drive in the parking lot of the old Sheriff’s Office.


Ballots can be returned around the county at Hayden Town Hall, Yampa Town Hall, Oak Creek Town Hall and at the Clark Store in North Routt. Each of these locations will accept ballot during their regular business hours.

On Election Day, the Polling Center in the HHS Building will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


A change this year is that Ballots will be accepted at drop off locations on Election Day until 7 p.m. In the past, these drop off locations would stop accepting ballots when the respective location closed for the day, but Thomas said voters can now bring them to town halls in Hayden, Yampa and Oak Creek until 7 p.m. on Tuesday.


Election judges work to count ballots as they come in, so by the time polls close on election night, a large portion of the vote has already been counted. After 7 p.m. the Clerk’s Office will upload the first round of results. Another round will be uploaded around 9 p.m. and the final update will come around midnight.


“Get your ballots in,” Thomas said. “Come see us at the polling center if you need to update [registration] or you need a replacement ballot or you want to vote on a machine. You can turn your ballots in any time from now until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7.”

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